Yesterday I played the Elgin Symphony Orchestra‘s annual free outdoor Wing Park concert. This concert is always a lot of fun. Wing Park is a 121 acre park complete with a golf course and music shell. It is a very old park (well over 100 years old) set on the northwest side of Elgin, an old Illinois town.
Elgin is a city of just under 100,000 people, and it is situated in the Fox River valley about 40 miles away from downtown Chicago. Chicago (and most of Illinois) is extremely flat, but out in the Fox River valley the landscape is more varied, with hills and valleys. Elgin is a very old town by Illinois standards. It was founded in 1836 (only a few years after Chicago was founded) and was originally known as a major supplier of dairy products to Chicago. In the late 19th century the Elgin Watch Company arrived, and Elgin was known for over fifty years as the largest producer of fine watches in the nation.
I have been playing this concert for six of the last seven years, and the weather has varied considerably from year to year. We have been rained out two of those last seven years (we then moved to the Hemmens Theatre in downtown Elgin). The weather this year was better than any other year I can remember. It was cool at night with no breeze (no blowing music!).
The music for these concerts is always fun. This year the theme of the concert was “A Tribute to John Phillips Sousa”, so we played a lot of Sousa, but also some Beethoven 5, Stars & Stripes forever, show tunes, movie soundtracks, and the like. The Elgin Choral Union also joined us for some numbers. It was an enjoyable evening.